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Monday, 21 March 2011

Song Number 11: Let Me In

Just in the nick of, once again, here's the latest:

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I always tell my students, if they need to make excuses for why a particular recording was below par, they shouldn't publish it- they should keep working at it until it's right and then publish.  Unfortunately, the weekly deadline has forced my hand, and so I've had to put this up despite my snot-infused sinuses!  Not that I'm making excuses or anything...!

This song started with the title, Let Me In.  Then the four main clav chords, which were originally in C, but then I realised that Song 10 was also in C, so I dropped it down to B flat.  Next came the second set of chords and the melody line for the title.  After that were the drums (wanted a breakbeat type affair, and I ended up stripping a lot of the original beats out to thin the sound out at the beginning and give the track more dynamic), and the bass.

Had fun with the production on this.  The slide down on the bass is actually me making that noise and recording it with an SM58 stuck up hard against my throat!  The string sound's been put through noise gates and limiters, then time stretched and compressed to break the sound up a bit.  The sampled beat at the beginning was a lot mushier, so I attacked that with a noise gate and limiter.  Put the clav through a pitch-shifter, tremolo and bit crusher in the "up" sections and the outro, too.  What I'm trying to say is I wanted to mess the sounds up a bit to try and make them sound a little less like off-the-hook sounds, even if that meant they didn't sound particularly pretty!  Check out some of Dave Stewart's productions for this.  The sax sound in Thorn In My Side, for example - horrible, but it doesn't sound like any other sax that's ever been recorded, either; so it sticks in your head.  And it's in addition to a great song, rather than just an annoying noise that's been put in to detract from weak songwriting.

I find starting with a title helps, sometimes, to give my songwriting - and especially the lyric - some structure, rather than just aimlessly shouting words at the monitor in the hope that somehow they'll fit.  It doesn't matter if the title means anything or has any particular connotations - it's just a hook to hang things on.  I've written a lot of songs like this, and the practice came from the need to save new songs with a name when opening them in Cubase (I now use Logic).  I'd give the new, unstarted song an arbitrary name, and then when it came to writing the lyric, sometimes that title word/phrase would find its way into the song; sometimes it wouldn't.

I'll write more about this sort of thing another time.  Right now, I want you all to donate, pass the link to the blog around to your friends, re-tweet this post, and do everything you can to help me generate interest in Song A Week 2011 so we can hit this £1,000 target!

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